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Francis Ngannou Suffocated Under the Weight of Expectation

Much was made about the push Francis Ngannou was being given in the lead up to UFC 220, countless videos and statistics were released to get Ngannou across to as large an audience as possible meanwhile the defending champion was treated like the b side in this fight.

Stipe Miocic was also upset at the clear bias in terms of promotion the challenger had received snatching the belt away from Dana White immediately following the fight to instead let his cornerman wrap the belt around his waist, a custom usually performed by Dana White.

Stipe taking belt from Dana.gif

The ideal scenario for the UFC it seemed was for Ngannou to win and the UFC crown a fresh marketable champion in their heavyweight division. Unfortunately, video promo’s don’t bear any significance in the outcome of a fight and at UFC 220 an old adage “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” came to mind.

Stipe Miocic was victorious setting a new record for defences of the heavyweight title, Miocic had many factors going against him, weight disadvantage, age, athleticism, the only area he was at an advantage was possessing greater MMA experience, he used that experience so well it was ultimately the deciding factor of the fight.

Something dawned on me right around the end of the third round by which point Ngannou was so heavily fatigued it was a question of how Miocic would win and not if, having witnessed the viral reaction Ngannou created with the unforgettable knockout of Alistair Overeem, did Ngannou feel as if he needed to win this fight in similar fashion?.

Thinking about all of Ngannou’s previous appearances in the UFC he has always been patient and composed, something that gave me great faith in him before his uncharacteristically erratic display in the first round of the fight. During the post-fight interview, Ngannou expressed how he “underestimated” Stipe Miocic and in the post-fight press conference admitted “I go (went) too hard in the first round” citing that as the main reason he was defeated.

Had Ngannou won, the UFC’s push would have looked like a genius move. There are two sides of the coin, however, in this particular case, I’m talking about the added pressure that is placed on an athlete who is expected to deliver something spectacular. The UFC was aiming to make a heavyweight star akin to those Boxing has produced the past few years, in doing so they may have pulled the trigger too early potentially spoiling the momentum Ngannou had been gathering.

There is potentially another time for Ngannou he’s only 31 in a division which is full of fighters much older than him although the opportunity to market Ngannou as a Mike Tyson type destroyer who captures the attention of the general public has now gone out the window for good.

Overall the fight was slightly disappointing, Ngannou was naive, Stipe coasted, as always a few questions were answered but the biggest question still remains a mystery, how long until the UFC produces a globally marketable heavyweight champion reflective of the title “the baddest man on the planet”?.

 

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